Three Challenges Modern Trucking Companies Encounter with Drug Testing Programs

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The economic landscape for trucking companies is difficult – profit margins are under pressure, the competition is fierce and a better safety record can translate into a significant competitive advantage.

For these reasons, your company should sharpen its focus on drug testing programs. In the process, a key question to consider: How can carriers refine and improve their drug testing programs cost-effectively?

Today’s trucking companies, especially small and midsize carriers face three key challenges to implementing an effective drug screening program that is compliant, effective, and supports a good return on investment (ROI).

1. Shifting from Drug Detection to Drug Deterrence
Under the Department of Transportation (DOT) CSA program, the Safety Management System (SMS) has shifted from an occurrence-based model to a risk-based model designed to prevent substance abuse issues before they occur.

Motor carriers are assigned a score in each BASIC (Behavior Analysis Safety Improvement Categories) related to several safety factors, including controlled substance and alcohol issues. High BASIC scores may result in poor publicity, more frequent roadside inspections, higher insurance rates, and buyer wariness.

To help maintain a low BASIC score, motor carriers need to develop an effective screening program that not only identifies drug and alcohol abuse but also deters ongoing use.

2. Demonstrating ROI on Safety Dollars
DOT regulations require motor carriers to administer urine testing, while hair testing is optional. Several large carriers want the DOT to legitimize hair testing because they have seen improved safety scores and a significant return on their investment from hair testing.

While hair testing may yield a 6 to 8 percent improvement in substance abuse detection it is more expensive to implement. This poses a challenge for small and midsize trucking companies who may be reluctant to invest their limited safety dollars in a screening procedure with a longer ROI.

However, if smaller truckers fail to take advantage of this important safety measure, they will be ceding a significant advantage to their larger competitors.

3. Maintaining an Effective, Efficient, and Compliant Testing Program
Under DOT regulations, drivers must submit to mandatory pre-employment drug testing and are subject to random drug and alcohol testing throughout their employment. Motor carriers that fail to conduct the tests or provide the necessary documentation are subject to fines, beginning at $1,000 a day for recordkeeping failures and up to $10,000 a day for knowingly falsifying records.

Many trucking organizations (especially smaller companies) may not possess the expertise, resources or infrastructure to effectively maintain a testing program and remain compliant with DOT regulations. These carriers should consider outsourcing.

Taking the extra step to use a qualified third-party screening provider to administer a drug screening program helps eliminate many concerns for the carrier. The screening provider administers details such as engaging a qualified Medical Review Officer, or setting up testing facilities that meet DOT requirements; a third-party screening provider also frees carriers to focus their own company resources on the transportation business.

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